LEED And Sustainable Electrical Design Principles

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The growth in “green buildings” in the UK, US and Europe has exploded in the last decade due largely to better building regulations and customer demand.

Green building rating systems like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification have exploded in popularity as they provide an independent and voluntary mechanism to measure the successful implementation of sustainable design principles into a construction project.

The LEED works by measuring a number of green criteria for which points are assigned. In total there are 69 points, along with a number of mandatory pre-requisites to achieve LEED certification. A project is graded as follows: certified (26 credits), silver (33 credits), gold (39 credits), or platinum (52 credits).

The question is what role does the electrical design and implementation play in the certification process?

The electrical designer on an LEED construction project is involved with two of the prerequisites alluded to above, and up to 28 of the 69 total points.

In particular, the electrical designer is responsible for important areas of the assessment, including:

  • Reducing light pollution, improving night time visibility, and using sustainable lighting technologies, as well as ensuring that interior and exterior lighting conforms to ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004.
  • Ensuring that the building energy systems work efficiently, with the primarily concern that the electrical system for lighting and the associated controls meet design performance levels. This is where technology like electrical CAD software and electrical design software are really important.
  • Meeting the baseline for energy consumption of the electrical equipment in the building. This ranges from improving VFD controllers for motors to incorporating creative controls for HVAC and lighting systems, think occupancy sensors and timers. Exceeding the baseline building performance as set out in ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2004 can lead to 10 additional credits being awarded.

In addition to these points the electrical designer can make a significant contribution to other areas of the assessment, like in the design and use of on-site renewable energy, and by working closely with the commissioning agent to incorporate performance strategies in the electrical design.

Finally, measurement and verification is also a big part of the assessment. The electrical designer can help improve metrics for this area by considering the use of separate metering panels.

Together with other areas of the assessment, like materials, resources and waste, the electrical designer clearly plays a significant role in achieving LEED certification. Working with a designer that understands the ins and outs of LEED from an electrical design perspective can make the difference from certified to platinum in ones rating!

About the Author Staff Writer

Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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